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Data Science for Social Good

A 12-week summer programme bringing together some of the top talent from data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence, to work on real-world data science challenges and deliver positive social impact.


What is Data Science for Social Good (DSSG)?

DSSG helps not-for-profit organisations and government bodies to achieve more with their data by enhancing their services, interventions and outreach, helping fulfil their mission of improving the world and people’s lives.

The programme gives not-for-profit organisations and government bodies unprecedented access to inspiring, top-tier data science talent. This helps build their capacity to use cutting-edge quantitative methods to address societal challenges in areas such as education, health, energy, public safety, transportation and economic development.

The DSSG Foundation’s core summer Fellowship was set up in 2013 by Rayid Ghani, former Chief Scientist for President Obama. The US Fellowship is based at Carnegie Mellon University.

In 2021, Warwick organised the DSSGx UK Summer Programme - a 12-week fellowship programme that trained students to create industry-standard data science products in collaboration with government agencies and NGOs, to deliver positive social impact.

Preparation is well underway for DSSGx 2022, which will be running at the University of Warwick, UK. For a fellows perspective on the 2021 experience, see here: University of Warwick and LMU.

DSSGx in the UK

In 2019, the University of Warwick collaborated with The Alan Turing Institute to bring DSSG to the UK as an affiliate programme of the DSSG Foundation’s core summer Fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University. It ran in 2019 at the University of Warwick, and online in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2021, Warwick delivered the DSSGx UK Summer Projects in collaboration with Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, once again online due to the pandemic.

In 2022, we expect to hold DSSGx UK in person again at the University of Warwick, from 6 June - 26 August enhancing the experience for the fellows, by providing the opportunity to work closely alongside their team members, mentors and the wider DSSGx team, as well as benefiting from the great campus life the university can offer.

There will also be a DSSGx Germany, held at the University of Kaiserslautern. The two programmes will work together to provide an even more stimulating experience for participating fellows.


Projects from previous years:

Mapping the world’s offline population

The project is in collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for all matters related to information and communication technology.

ITU’s mission is to facilitate connecting all the world's people and to protect and support everyone's right to communicate.​ ITU and UNICEF have joined forces in the Giga initiative in a bid to connect every school to the Internet by 2030. Aside from directly benefitting children, schools often act as community hubs and so connecting a school often connects the surrounding community too.

This project aims to integrate a number of different data sources to provide real-time estimates of the number of offline people in local areas that would benefit from extending Internet connectivity. The new model will inform the prioritisation of infrastructure projects within Giga as well as policy and decision making at the community level more broadly, and enhance the understanding and use of national and local level internet connectivity data.


Project in partnership with ITU.

ITU logo

Prioritising environmental complaints

This project is a collaboration with the Superintendency of the Environment (SMA) in Chile. SMA is a public service responsible for conducting environmental inspections and ensuring compliance of thousands of facilities to protect the environment and public health.

Due to its limited budget, SMA cannot afford to respond to all citizen demands so it must prioritize where to allocate its efforts. Thousands of citizen complaints are received yearly on a wide range of environmental problems, and this figure has quadruplicated the past year with the launch of online complaints. Each citizen complaint needs to be analysed, and where relevant, lead to inspection and sanction processes.

The project will use a mix of structured (e.g., facility information) and unstructured (e.g., description of environmental problems) data to attempt to prioritise complaints by identifying those that are more likely to lead to grave sanctions as well as those that are outside of the SMA remit. This will help SMA attend to some of the environmental and public health issues that require pressing attention.


Project in partnership with SMA.

SMA logo

For more projects - 2019, 2020 and 2021

Work with us:

As a 2022 fellow - applications are now closed

For undergraduate or postgraduates at a higher education institute, DSSGx provides an unrivalled opportunity to spend the summer working with an international team of data scientists on a project with real social impact.

DSSGx gives aspiring data scientists the opportunity to refine their data science skills through intense training, and by working in small supervised teams on real-world data mining, machine learning, and data science projects. Participants will work with global non-profit organisations and government bodies to make a real-world social impact with their data, by improving their services, interventions, and outreach.

Teams will be supported by technical mentors and project managers, and alongside the project runs a training programme that will be flexibly adapted to cover the needs of the team and the project.

If you have a passion for data science, care about the social good and want to work in an international team, we would welcome your application. Feedback from previous participants is exceptionally positive and while most of our fellows are late stage undergraduate or graduate students, including PhD students, we look at skills, not at the number of university years.

Admission is highly selective. In 2021 there were 470 applications for 16 places. The recruitment process involves completing the application form and, if selected, two rounds of interviews, looking at technical competencies in addition to finding out more about each selected applicant.

This is an intense, 12-week, full-time internship. All selected fellows will receive a stipend covering their living costs and expenses. Accommodation and travel to the University of Warwick will be provided.

DSSGx UK will be held at the University of Warwick and will run from Monday 6 June until Friday 26 August, inclusive.

Applications are now closed.

For further information and if you have any questions about the programme, please check the FAQs.

As a sponsor

We're looking for sponsors to work with our projects and third sector partners, as well as core sponsors that share our vision, aim and values. The programme attracts incredible talent and supports them to deliver high impact, data driven projects for social good. Sponsors continue to benefit from the reputation of the programme and alignment with project goals long after the summer programme ends.

To learn more, please contact dssg@wbs.ac.uk

As a project partner

If you're a non-profit or government organisation with a data science challenge, you can apply to become a project partner.

The Opportunity:

DSSGx is looking for project partners who want to tackle critical social challenges and believe that data can improve their operations and interventions with tangible social impact.

As a project partner, you get:

  • a strong data science team that cares about your challenges
  • a prototype solution (report, predictive model and software) that helps solve your problem using data science tools
  • exposure and training — for the project at hand but also how to tackle these projects technically as well as through validation.

All of this comes free of charge (although running DSSGx is costly, and we would appreciate a voluntary contribution where possible).

How does it work?

Each non-profit organisation is matched together with a data science team of 3 - 4 outstanding international students (undergraduate to PhD) who will develop a tailored approach to the organisation’s challenge over the summer. Their academic strength is complemented by professional technical mentors and project managers. The latter ensure that the time is used efficiently, the deliverables for each week are achieved and that the organisation’s goals are met.

The aim overall is to combine the training of students and recent graduates with the delivery of tangible data products that can help the third sector embed AI and data science into their operations. The DSSGx 2022 programme will run at the University of Warwick campus – Covid permitting!

Deadline and requirements

The deadline for applications is on the 30th March 2022.

Project applications will go through a scoping process with data science experts to ensure feasibility and agree goals and deliverables. The partner organisation must be able to commit one day a week equivalent through the summer to take part.

If you're interested in becoming a project partner, please apply here.

Although we have a close date of 30 March for 2022, we're happy to hear about possible projects all through the year, so please get in touch.


Here's what previous partners have said about us

"The DSSG experience has been amazing – the fellows are embarrassingly smart and I’m impressed by the quality of their work and their dedication to the project."

Youlia Lozanova, ITU

"As Superintendent of Environment of Chile, we are pleased to have participated in the DSSGx program with the project of environmental complaints prioritization. Soon after we began working together, we noticed the compromise of the team which not only ended up translating into a high-quality product but also gave us many insights about the particular problem and the complaint process in general. It has been a wonderful experience for us and we highly recommend being part of this initiative to other organizations who want to get the most of their data and engage with a team of bright professionals."

Pablo Aguirre Hörmann, SMA

As a Technical Mentor 

DSSGx UK is seeking paid, full-time Technical Mentors for 2022 (3.5 months, fixed-term).

  • Technical Mentors typically have a strong technical background, often a PhD in data science, computer science, statistics, social science or public policy, plus several years of industry experience.

As a Technical Mentor you'll work with top international data science talent on projects that really matter.

To register your interest, please contact dssg@wbs.ac.uk

The 2022 job description is now live and we are accepting applications until the position has been filled.

As a volunteer

We are looking for socially-minded volunteers with data science experience to lend their time and expertise to help deliver DSSGx 2021.

For more information and to put yourself forward please contact dssg@wbs.ac.uk


Organisers

University of Warwick

  • Marya Bazzi, Mathematics
  • Juergen Branke, Warwick Business School
  • Colm Connaughton, Mathematics
  • Lyudmila Grigoryeva, Statistics

  • Clare Roberts, Warwick Business School

We gratefully acknowledge the support from our sponsors.

alanturing logo microsoft logo2 lve logo
dataquest_logo aridhia logo  

Register your interest

To register your interest or to find out more about how you can get involved, please contact dssg@wbs.ac.uk

Stay informed

Interested, but not ready yet?

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DSSG

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We take handling your data seriously. Data Transparency: for ApplicantsLink opens in a new window, for PartnersLink opens in a new window